Sooners Suffer Sweep at Hands of Longhorns

You can look at the No. 7 Texas Longhorns' three-game sweep over the No. 9 OU baseball team in two ways.

A) Texas' pitching was better than advertised and the Sooners' hitters just didn't have an answer for anyone Texas head coach Augie Garrido sent to the mound.

B) The Sooners (22-6, 3-4) were exposed for who they really are, overachievers who looked good all season because of a very weak schedule.

Both theories are legitimate ones and both had their moments during the series at L. Dale Mitchell Park. OU looked overpowered and at times played with little heart.

If you're a supporter of theory No. 1, there are a lot of stats to back your claim.

The Longhorns (21-7, 7-2) recorded shutouts in the opening two games of the series 5-0 and 2-0 to secure the series victory, and allowed three runs in their six-run victory in the finale Saturday. Each of Texas' three starting pitchers lasted at least seven innings. Taylor Jungmann went seven innings, Cole Green went 7 2/3 innings, and Brandon Workman went eight innings, the three combined to strike out 20 in their 22 2/3 innings of work.

And when the starters were out of commission the bullpen was just as effective.

While the Sooners normally rely on a one-two combination of Jeremy Erben and Ryan Duke to pitch the final innings, the Longhorns used one pitcher to secure wrap things up, Chance Ruffin.

Ruffin appeared in all three games and the only runner to reach base against him was when he hit Ross Hubbard. Other than that, he did not another runner to reach base and struck out eight batters in 4 1/3 innings in relief.

The most impressive thing about Texas' pitching staff was the fact they kept OU hitters from finding holes in the defense. The Sooners, who were hitting .323 coming into the series, collected 11 hits against Texas – four in game one and game three and three in game two – and hit a pathetic .125.

Garrett Buechele was the only Sooner who got a hit in every game in the series. He went 3-12 with a double in the series, and his .250 average was a team best this weekend for OU starters who played all three games.

The Longhorns' pitching was flat-out dominant, and the Sooners could do nothing about it.

But if you are a subscriber to theory No. 2, then you're seeing a bad trend with the Sooners' schedule.

Before this weekend, OU had played just one ranked team, UCLA. When the Sooners played the at-time No. 10 Bruins in the Whataburger Classic on March 14 in Corpus Christi, Texas, they lost 5-2 to end a 10-game winning streak.

Since then, the Sooners didn't face a ranked opponent until Texas and they were climbing in the rankings.

Winning those games did benefit OU in terms of RPI and team confidence, but it needs to build confidence against teams that it has a chance of seeing in the post season.

The most recent cupcake series on the Sooners' schedule was Arkansas-Pine Bluff. In two games OU walloped its opponent by a combined score of 42-4 and pounded pitching that averaged in the high-70s and low-to-mid-80s.

Maybe playing these so many of these bad teams caused the Sooners to not be prepared for the Longhorns, but now OU has something to prove. It has to prove it can compete with the top-tier teams in the nation, and it gets a chance to do that Tuesday against the No. 12 TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas.

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